Camouflage Challenge- A lesson plan

Nathan Oliveira (American, 1928–2010)
Oil on canvas, 96 x 78 in. Crocker Art Museum, gift of Bob and Jeannette Powell, 2013.35.2.

“The earliest camouflage artists were members of the Post-Impressionist and Fauve schools of France. Contemporary artistic movements such as cubism, vorticism and impressionism also influenced the development of camouflage as they dealt with disrupting outlines, abstraction and colour theory.” (1)



Students will be able to work in groups with paint to camouflage their hand. Students will collaborate to create and execute a plan.



Consider making vocabulary cards to have in the room for reference. Also, creating an elements of art poster is an enriching opening activity or optional homework.

Share these definitions with students. Depending on the English language proficiency in your class, you may want to share additional definitions.

Hue- a color or shade

Intensity- the brightness or dullness of a color

Value- how light or dark any given color or hue can be

Camouflage-  Camouflage is the art of blending in with your surroundings in order to avoid detection.




Share the focus artwork, Figure with Striped Leg by Nathan Oliveira and Rigo with Papel Picado by Shizu Saldamando. Look at the paintings, where do you see camouflage and where do you see high contrast colors and object? Elaborate.

Where and when do you see the art of camouflage in your day-to-day activities? Look around the room.

How might contrast/optical illusions/color matching be used to camouflage an object?


Rigo with Papel Picado by Shizu Saldamando      Figure with Striped Leg by Nathan Oliveira



Part 1: Group work

  1. Create groups. Each student will need to have a responsibility (jobs) in this group effort. All group members are responsible for maintaining a clean and tidy workspace after the project is finished. Consider the following for group member jobs:
    • Time keeper- keep the pace of the activity. assist in cleaning
    • Recorder- record, or take notes, about the process. assist in cleaning.
    • Painter- gather painting materials, mix the colors to achieve the desired hues
    • Cleaner- maintain the neatness of the table and work space. Assist the painter with materials. wash brushes as needed. pour out water
    • Subject- this person will be the person who has their hand painted. They are also responsible for keeping their clothes clean, and for cleaning their hands afterwards.
  2. Decide on background and space. Do you see a surface, object, area, etc. that could be used as a space for this camouflage exercise? What colors do you want to use? Do you see a space that can be used for camouflage? This will be where students complete the camouflage challenge. You will be painting a student’s hand to match, or camouflage, into it’s environment.
  3. Paint student hand. Groups work together to make a plan for the activity and work together.
  4. Photograph. Using cell phone cameras (or other cameras if available), experiment with adding and subtracting light from the workspace. How does light change the color?
  5. Clean up and return to table groups or assigned seats.

Part 2: Writing reflection

Students will answer the following questions on paper or laptop. Consider the appropriate length of the writing sample for your class.

You have created your own camouflage painting. Again, look at the paintings, where do you see camouflage and where do you see high contrast colors and object? Has your perspective changed? What was challenging about working in a group? What went well? What did you learn? What are you still curious about?


Share out writing reflections. Ask for shout-outs from peers.


California Arts Education Framework for Visual Arts, 2020



Individual aesthetic and empathetic awareness developed through engagement with art can lead to understanding and appreciation of self, others, the natural world, and constructed environments.

Visual imagery influences understanding of and responses to the world


Through artmaking, people make meaning by investigating and developing awareness of perceptions, knowledge, and experiences.

People develop ideas and understandings of society, culture, and history through their interactions with and analysis of art.


English Language Arts


Key Ideas and Details, Craft and Structure, Integration of Knowledge and Ideas, Range of Reading and Level of Text Complexity

Speaking and Listening

Comprehension and Collaboration, Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas


Conventions of Standard English, Vocabulary Acquisition and Use



(1) Reynold, Adrian. Camouflage: The Art of Hiding in Plain Sight.,in%20order%20to%20avoid%20detection. REN Creative Works. April 2022.


Extensions and Adaptations

-Assign the group members ahead of time

-Provide a structure for the recorder. You may decide to have more than one recorder if your class needs this to be successful.

-Discuss : How do you adjust hue, intensity and value of a color?

-Assign students a role before beginning (perhaps each desk is marked with a colored sticker. green = recorder, yellow = painter, etc.)

-Encourage students to visit the Crocker Art Museum to view Figure with Striped Leg by Nathan Oliveira and more !


  • Acrylic paint (any washable paint will do)
  • Paper plates for color mixing
  • Paint brushes
  • Spotlights (cell phone camera light)
  • Cell phone camera (or any available camera)
  • Writing materials (paper and pencil or laptops


45 minutes

Grade Level



  • Performing Arts
  • Visual Arts


  • Color


  • Colors
  • Paint


Brittany Thurman